Tuesday, Nov. 15, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont.

Someone must have returned from Florida because the restaurant had a huge bowl of oranges on a table in the back. Each of the OMOTM got an orange. We feel the Home Front wants to keep the OFs healthy so there are enough of the old goats to continue this round robin of restaurants.

Particularly Tuesday morning at the Home Front, at one table two of the OFs sat side by side and there were 183 years of living between them. Someone should sit them both down and compile that many years of living history. It would not only be local but national and international in scope.

There is an update on the old cars topic: An OF (not of this group because of geography) mentioned the Pierce Arrow that was made right here in New York State. According to this OF, it was produced in Buffalo, New York.

This scribe should have remembered this vehicle because it was one of the vehicles that convinced this scribe he should give up sign painting. This scribe was given the “chore” of striping a beautifully restored Pierce Arrow — talk about nervewracking. Maybe this scribe tried to wash that experience from the gray cells that have it stored somewhere in his brain.

Busy election

The election was briefly touched on and a strange phenomenon popped up as many of the OFs did not vote for one or the other, rather they voted against one or the other. One OF who works at the polls said that this election was the busiest he has ever seen and he has been doing it a long time.

The OF said the poll workers did not even have time to eat. They caught a bite here and there as the evening went on.

The OF said they usually (in the town of Knox) have pizza brought in or they call for take-outs. Not this year — no time to do that. This OF also noted that the preponderance of young people voting was really noticeable.

All the OFs are glad the election is over and they can watch TV, and laugh at the Geico and Aflac ads, along with some others that are so interesting the OFs say they forget what is being advertised.

Nap experts

The OFs commented on the new trend of taking naps. The OFs are masters of how to do that. The OFs could write a book on nap-taking.

Most all the OFs say they feel refreshed after taking a nap. The duration of the naps and when they take them do vary, but basically the results are the same. One OF did mention that he does not nap because, when he does, he can’t sleep at night.

A couple of the OGs said that they have trouble sleeping at night and take naps all through the day. For them, this seems to work.

Some notable people who napped or got along on very little sleep were mentioned. One was Thomas Edison who had strange sleeping habits. One OF said that Edison thought ideas were in the air for anyone to grab and Edison figured that, if he were sleeping, he would miss some of these ideas.

One OF mentioned that he is tired all the time and all he has to do is sit down and he is asleep. How soundly the OFs were asleep in these naps did not come up but most claim they were actually asleep, and could tell by how much time had gone by that they did not realize had gone by.

One OF said he wakes up from his naps quite often for the same reason he wakes up at night — he has to go to the bathroom.

“Isn’t it funny,” one OG remarked, “that, even though the body is asleep, the plumbing keeps right on working?”

Fuel for the fire

A conversation that is common at this time of year is about the woodpiles of the OFs who burn wood for heat. Some have stoves; others have wood-burning furnaces either in the cellar or outdoors. A few have the outdoor furnaces that they run all year-round because they also use the furnace for hot water.

One OF said that, in his furnace, he uses wood that, for the most part, came from trees that have fallen or are dead. This helps keep his wood lot clean. With the outdoor furnace, it is possible to burn just about anything since the furnace is a good distance from the house so, if a chimney fire from creosote happens, it is not a problem.

What is a problem is to feed the dumb thing when it is 10-degrees below zero and there are two feet of snow outside to wade through. This makes it necessary to bundle up to put another log on the fire.

Just like cows: If the OF doesn’t feel good, the cows still have to be milked, and, in this case, the fire still has to be fed.  Yep, it has to be done unless there is a good backup in case adversity happens.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their condolences to the family of Dick Ogsbury who passed away on Veterans Day. Dick was ill for a long time and courageously dealt with it.

No scurvy

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont, where the restaurant made sure the OFs would not get scurvy, were: Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Dave Williams, Mike Willsey, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Bob Giebitz, Jim Rissacher, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Marty Herzog, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, another gorgeous day, the Old Men of the Mountains met at the Chuck Wagon Diner, on Route 20 in Princetown.

The election weather was going to be nice, at least in our part of the country. This should make for a good turnout. Some of the OFs had already voted before the breakfast and others were going to vote right after.

One OF was working the polls, so another OF ordered a breakfast sandwich and delivered it to the one at the polls.  Even though he was “working” at the polls, should we consider him an absentee at the breakfast? The rules will have to be checked for this.

The OFs had a good discussion on weight and weight control at the breakfast table and, looking at some of the breakfasts ordered, it must be that, for some of the OFs, it is only the one meal for the day.  

It was discussed that even people who do not have diabetes could consider following the diabetes diet. Those OFs who do eat that way say it is a very bland diet, with no salt and many food items not allowed, especially sweets and many types of bread. What fun is there in that?

One OF thought that eating is for health and sustenance and not supposed to be fun. Say what!

At our age, for many of the OFs, eating is the only fun we have left. Sex is out, hiking is out, driving fast (if driving at all) is out, skydiving is really gone, scuba diving — forget that, but the OFs can still raise a knife and fork.

Summer stretches on

Some of the OFs are still mowing their lawns because the grass is still growing. One OF reported that the bees are even now working what flowers that are still around, and lady bugs are all over the place, at least up on the Hill.

One OF reported that, while sitting at the kitchen table, the lady bugs would seem to drop out of nowhere. He exclaimed, “It is particularly frustrating when they fall in my coffee cup while I am still drinking it.

Another OF mentioned that he was getting ready to shave and reached for the soap and it moved. The OF said he snapped his hand back and said to himself, “What the heck is that?” There were three live lady bugs trapped in the soap and those bugs were really ticked off.

These bugs are portrayed as cute little things (and they are) with their red wings with the black dots, but these suckers can bite.

How best to teach kids

The OFs do not remember dunce caps, but they do remember being put on a stool in the corner in school if and when they acted up. The OFs don’t know if they do that today or not.

One OF remembered a teacher in Schoharie who was a former United States Marine and then went on to become a teacher, and it was a good idea not to fool around in his class. This teacher had his own idea of the dunce cap and that was to have the one misbehaving stand in the front of the class with his or her arms outstretched until they felt like they were going to fall off.

This ex-Marine was a good teacher; the kids knew and understood what was going to be on a test, and this Marine was not afraid to hand out “A’s”

One OF said that the kids today get awards even when they lose. The OFs don’t quite understand that.

One OF said, “If you are in something to win, why bother when you are going to get an award even if you don’t try?”

Another OF said he did not think that was really the gist of it; this OF thought it was the perception of self-esteem that some kids are never going to be winners but should be rewarded for effort and at least trying their best. In their minds, this will make them a winner of sorts.

An OF said he can see this in some situations but not all. Some other OFs agreed but they did not elucidate as to what the differences were — sports, art, music, academics — or who was participating.

One OF liked the idea of having the smart kids in a smart class where they could be challenged. This OF thought the schools are dumbing down to the lowest common denominator. This is why we are being left behind by other countries.

This OF said he was in the slow class, and turned out alright, and had more fun in school than the egg heads. Another OF summed it up by saying that the ones running the show want to throw everyone in the same basket; however, people are different and there should be many baskets, but all baskets should be the same. Somehow this scribe understands that.

Bygone models

The OFs talked about the cars they have had and the names of some are really weird. Some of them they just rode in because they never could afford them — just like today.

The Duesenberg, Hudson, White, Whippet, Reo (truck), Studebaker, Packard, Willys, Nash, Hupmobile, Vauxhall, the Brewster with its bat-wing fenders and heart-shaped grill. Stanley Steamer, Franklin, Jack Benny’s Maxwell, Checker the yellow cab, the little Bantam, Auburn, the Kaiser with its double-arched windshield — these are just a few the OFs came up with and now these vehicles are no longer made.

Some the OFs could describe but could not come up with the names. Then there was the Tucker but that is another story. Probably those reading this can come up with some that are not listed. The OFs were not talking about the companies still manufacturing cars, like Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and the like.

Those OFs who motored to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princeton Tuesday morning, in cars with names just as strange only with names in languages from all over the world, were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Gerry Irwin, Glenn Patterson, (the OFs wish him good luck on his hip replacement,) Mark Traver, Jack Norray, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Andy Tinning, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

When there are things to do and people to see on a repeat basis, the day that these activities are to to take place seems to roll around so quickly, the week seems to have only three days. So it is with Tuesdays.

The Old Men of the Mountain met Tuesday, the first day of November, at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. Wasn’t yesterday Tuesday? The day pops up much faster than a Thursday.

In a previous column, an OF mentioned the Army Air Corps. Another OF said it should have been the Army Air Force.

This information sent this scribe to the net to check it out. Like anything with government involvement, it became very convoluted. The OFs were each half right.

It was the United States Army Air Corps. from 1926 to 1941.* (That asterisk is where the confusion lies.)  The Air Corps was discontinued on March 9, 1942 but in paperwork only it continued to exist as a branch of the Army (similar to the infantry, quartermaster, or artillery) until the reorganization act of 1947.

It took two years to complete the transfer of all military and civilian personnel to the Department of Defense and be called just the Air Force. So it became the USAF on June 22, 1949.

The semantics of this type of information is what makes discussions and arguments go on forever, both sides using their points and refusing to budge. As said, both are right, and both are wrong.

However, the patch was changed from the three-bladed propeller, to the wings and star in March 1942, which would help the argument of the U.S. Air Force being used while it was still a division of the Army until 1949. During the limbo period of 1942 to 1949, it was called the USAAF: United States Army Air Force. And, in 1949, the “Army” was dropped. Now you know the rest of the story.

Figuring inflation

The OFs tried to compute the price of inflation and what many items cost today. Many OFs mentioned what they paid for their first homes in the early forties and middle fifties and what the same house would go for today.

The OFs also included vehicles, and some items of clothing. Then, of course, there was the price of having a baby in the late forties, and early fifties and what it costs today. Within this topic, education and medicine were mentioned.

To the OFs, the current price of many products and services seems to far exceed the rate of inflation. Somehow we need a good reporter in the paper to scope this out and write an article in simple terms that the OFs can understand. Along with this, it was suggested large jumps in pay could be justified.

Growing up with bullies

The OFs took on the subject of bullying. Many of the OFs (this scribe included) said they had to contend with bullies and it was part of growing up,

And, as far as the conversation went, the OFs dealt with it, some with help and some by themselves. Only a few had to deal with gang bullying of a sort that was hard.

Is this something that has really gotten out of hand and with the advent of the internet a more serious threat? The OFs did not have to deal with that.

They met the bullying head on; if it was the physical kind, it would be similar to Ralphie in “A Christmas Story.” The mental type is a harder battle to win; the OFs thought this was the type you really needed help on.

The OFs also thought many of those who were bullied turned out better later on in life because of the experience than the one doing the bullying. The OFs could not remember anyone with physical or mental handicaps being bullied, but as one OF said: Back then, they were mostly in institutions and not out in harm’s way.

One OF said that the OFs had to remember we were in small schools, with small classes, and anyone who started out bullying only had to do it a couple of times and they were well taken care of and wouldn’t even think of continuing on with the practice.

Sharing fears

Along with this was another topic which came up later but is related because it is a problem the OFs deal with and work their way through — phobias.

The OFs talked about some of the phobias they have like claustrophobia, and acrophobia, and whatever name they attach to the phobia of bridges.

One OF mentioned that, when he drives over a bridge, his hands grip the wheel so tight that, if he were much stronger, he would crush the steering wheel. The OF said he looks straight ahead and is sure he does not blink. Some bridges he even slows down a bit before starting across.

Fear of flying was another one, and an OF said that this was more common than people think. Another OF added that he hates closed-in, tight places and thought that this might add to the fear of flying; it is not the flying but being closed in that the OF said was his problem.

All these OFs, though scared silly, did fly, and did drive over bridges. The OFs also talked about their fear (and this scribe began to get the feeling it was more a dislike than actual fear) of snakes, bats, and spiders. On the Hill, these critters are a part of the landscape and most who live there learned to cope with them.

Those OFs who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg and ate well even though they had to drive off a bridge to get there were: Robie Osterman, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer (who is going to be playing and singing at Mrs. K’s on the 17th of this month), Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Jack Norray (who again brought flags for the Duanesburg Diner), Wayne Gaul, Mace Porter, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Henry Whipple, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On this Tuesday morning, it was reported again that around 6:30 to 7 a.m. the wildlife was very active and out running around. No time to be late for work and scurrying down the highway because our friendly critters are out there scurrying too. It may be the weather, because it was a tad chilly on Oct. 25 and the wildlife likes this weather so they become a little perkier.

Tuesday morning, an OF used a statement that the OF must have read from one of these cute signs that are on a lot of refrigerator doors, or hung in many restaurants, because a perfect time came in one of the discussions where the OF could use this little ditty: “If I thought you were right, that would make both of us wrong.”

That is another witticism that can be stored is some gray cell to use at the appropriate time in a discussion, particularly one on politics.

The OFs seemed in a nostalgic frame of mind. They went back in time (the 1940s and ’50s) to when Schenectady was a completely different city. Some mentioned how much the city has changed physically on State Street and Erie Boulevard.

One OF mentioned that it now looks a lot like what they did in Oneonta years ago, with landscaping and benches and lighting. The OFs said it is still not the old Schenectady when the Carl Co., Wallace Armer, Woolworth, and Grants were in full bloom and in business in the city.

The OFs remembered getting your change from vacuum tubes that ran around the store. One OF thought Wallace Armer had the tube run around on a trolley system. The Carl Co. had an elevator with an elevator operator.

The OFs also remember people walking all over the city, especially State Street, Erie Boulevard, and Broadway. There were many active stores from the Van Curler Hotel, up the hill all the way to the park. Going to Schenectady was more fun than going to Albany.

Bad ads

Again, the OFs discussed the political ads on TV.  They are so nauseating.

With the ads running continuously and saying nothing, the OFs think both major parties want us not to vote because they think a low turnout will favor them; therefore, they run these vile ads to get the populace so fed up they stay home.

Whoop!

A fellow stopped in the restaurant not to eat but to get directions. Whoop!

Asking directions from this group, which requires four guys in a car each Tuesday morning just to be sure to find the restaurant where the breakfast is going to be, is one big mistake. But the OFs were nice and only let three or four OFs give the lost soul directions.

The directions sounded correct to this scribe and this scribe knows a little bit about the village so it made sense. The OFs hope the gentleman finds Bridge Street.

One OF said, “Did you ever think, when giving directions in a case like this to a complete stranger, that you might be giving directions to somebody who does not have the best intent on doing whatever he is going to do when he gets to where he is going?”

No, was the collective answer.

Droning on

Drones were another topic of discussion. These new toys are becoming more than toys.

One OF said that some youngsters are making platforms with the drones under them and flying them by standing on the platform. The OF said that these daredevils now are going as high as 50 to 60 feet in the air, and maneuvering them by leaning on them one way or the other and leaning forward to go faster.  Then they seem to be using the radio controls to hover and go up and down.

Some of the OFs said, if they were younger, this looks like it would be fun. Some OFs did not know if these were truly drones, or an improvement on the boards that were used awhile back, using fans and Venturi tubes to direct the flow.  (Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746–1822), was an Italian physicist.  The Venturi effect is the reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section — or choke — of a pipe.  So says Google).

Who knows, maybe this is how we will be visiting our friends and neighbors in the future. “That is until something else comes along,” an OF said.

One OF thought they can only be used in good weather, it can’t be raining, or too windy. That is right for reasonable people, but kids think they are never going to die or get hurt and when these things become popular the kids will use them in a snow storm.

Blind spots

Apparently there was an accident in front of the Carrot Barn, which is only a few miles down the road toward Route 7 from the Your Way Café and it brought up a pretty good discussion on how many blind spots there are on the roadways. The OFs started listing some that are really bad.

One was the intersection on Route 443, where county Route 1 (Switzkill Road) crosses 443 just west of the Berne town park. Vehicles heading east on 443 and coming over the little knoll by the cemetery have to be particularly leery when approaching this intersection. When vehicles crossing 443 at this intersection, the sight distance to the top of that rise — the OFs guess — is only about 100 feet or so.

Another bad spot is from the optical illusion on Beebe Road in the town of Knox. Beebe Road appears to continue without a road crossing it. Route 146 (which is the main road) has an intersection where Beebe road crosses, and to strangers driving Beebe it appears like 146 isn’t even there until the driver is upon it and sees the stop sign.

One OF remarked, “If he even sees the stop sign!”

The optical illusion, this OF thinks, relaxes the driver enough not to even expect road or sign.

The OFs talked about many other risky areas, especially driveways that enter the road at dangerous locations.

Driving is a challenge: animals that can’t read, bikes that play car and ride in the middle of the road, dead limbs that can fall out of tree at anytime, drivers texting who don’t even notice what lane they are in, and then the OFs with their legs that don’t work and only one eye— they are all out there. It is pure luck anybody gets to where they are going.

The Old Men of the Mountain who accepted the challenge of driving, drove to the Your Way Café in Schoharie and these OFs were: Miner Stevens, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Roger Shafer, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Sonny Mercer, Ray Kennedy, Roger Chapman, Don Wood, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Greg Hawk, John Jasniewski, Ted Feurer, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

It was an unbelievable Tuesday morning on Oct. 18. Some of the Old Men of the Mountain were at the Country Café in Schoharie in shorts and sandals. All were in short sleeves later on as some came with jackets but removed them when it became really warm as the morning wore on.

Global warming was dismissed because, the OFs said, we have been here before (meaning the temperature) but wearing shorts and sandals in the Northeast in the middle of October?  

Some of the OFs said they are stocking up on ammunition, and some are upgrading their guns. These are OFs who are hunters, and a few are avid hunters. The OFs feel that this sport will be taken away along with many of our other freedoms as time goes on.

“But,” one OF said, “how long do you expect to live?  Why are you even worrying about it? The revolution has already started — get me off this planet. I don’t want to go through all the hassle of learning Chinese or Arabic.”

Greetings

A few of the OFs come up with clever ways of answering greetings of the day with salutations that are really funny. A couple of weeks ago, one was reported as the greeting.

This week the retort was in reply to a greeting. The reply was, “Oh I am better now, but I have been worse.”

That sums it up in a nutshell for the OFs — we are better now but we have been worse.

Respect for our flag

Thanks to one OMOTM, the OMOTM are handing out six American flags in small wooden stands to all the restaurants the OMOTM visit.  The restaurants can use them in their table settings, or they can give them to other people who visit their restaurant, or they can take the flags home for themselves.

The OMOTM not only appreciate and respect the flag, but also all the restaurants that put up with us on Tuesday mornings.

No aid to hearing

Over and over again the OFs discuss hearing aids; some wear them to the breakfast but have to turn them off. It seems that virtually none of them work in these situations.

It makes no difference if the hearing aids come from Wal-Mart, or a real high-class hearing-aid place where a hearing aid is no larger than a quarter and can cost thousands of dollars. To the OFs, neither one works any better than the other.

One OF who has nerve deafness, and it has impaired his hearing since he was a kid, said that, when he was inducted into the Army, they gave him a hearing test. The nerve deafness, of course, showed up but that did not deter the military from conscripting the OF.

The OF said, “And where did they put me?  They trained me and made me a radio operator!”

To which the other OFs said, “Radio operator? A deaf guy as a radio operator?”

“Yep,” the OF said. “It was a good thing that deafness is all that it was; if I had bad vision, they probably would have put me in the Army Air Corps as a pilot.” (Scribe’s note, you can tell our ages by our use of the term Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the Air Force.)

No why required

Some of the OFs attend auctions, or go to flea markets. Many of the items that go up for sale at auctions or are on tables at flea markets, the OFs use on a routine basis at home. Tuesday morning, the OFs talked about some of the acquisitions they have recently purchased.

“Why,” some of the OFs inquired, “do you buy all this old junk?”

Like many things in life, why the OFs do this or that does not have much of a rationale — the OFs just do it. To the OFs, it doesn’t require a why.

Where are the bugs?

The OFs were commenting on the lack of bugs this year, and the lack of hornets. A few stink bugs, a few lady bugs, no earwigs; ants are still around but seemed normal.

Maybe it is our location; maybe other areas are inundated with bugs but for the Hilltowns and surrounding areas not much. This is at least by observations of the OFs, and we all know how that goes since the vision or hearing of this group could be greatly improved upon.

“However,” one OF said, “maybe my glasses are thick, but I know when I get stung, or bit, and that has not happened this year.”

Another OF mentioned that the honey bees seem to be more prevalent than the last couple of years, thank goodness. The OF said that, on his walks, the white and blue pearly everlastings were humming with bees.

One OF offered the suggestion that it might be because of the mild winter. These bugs kept waking up, and then got put back into the deep freeze so frequently that they had no time to reproduce, and, when or if they did, the young froze before they could develop.

But, then again, that is just a guess; what do I know? Only that we need bugs if we are going to have birds to help pollination.

Pirate ship in dry dock

Briefly mentioned were pirates and pirates’ ships, due to the interest of one OF. The OFs were not concerned about treasures or treasure maps, just the pirates, and their ship, and maybe the “plank.”

The ship has reached a point in construction and has apparently stopped. This may be that the interest of Captain Jack has waned, or the “Black Pearl” is lying on the bottom of the sea cavorting with the “Little Mermaid” and not bringing in any plunder.

Either way the OFs’ pirate ship still sits in dry dock.

The crew for the pirate ship showed up this morning at the Country Café in Schoharie and they were: Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Richard Frank, Roger Shafer, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Sonny Mercer, Ray Kennedy, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Randy Foretuin, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Pages